Bolivar Ferry and Lighthouse

May 19, 2002

On Sunday I had a much more modest goal than usual, to visit the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula and take photos of the Lighthouse from the air.

The day was stunning: a perfect day for ultralights. Low winds, few thermals, cool air, blue skies. It doesn’t get much better than that!

The difficulty in this particular flight was avoiding congested areas as well as the Class-E-to-the-surface around Scholes Field (Galveston’s airport)

You can see from the map that I skirted the Class E. It also looks like I took a route that involved more water overflight than was necessary. Originally I figured heading toward Pelican Island would be best, but when I was flying, it simply “felt” too close to Scholes Field to be comfortable, so I opted to fly along the Texas City Dike. In an engine-out, there aren’t very many places on the Dike I could have landed, but, still, it felt more secure than just being over water.

There is a major shipping channel that parallels the Dike (which was almost directly below me when I took this picture).

As I rounded the point, it was very dramatic to see the entire end of the peninsula with the ferry boats right below. That’s East Galveston Bay to the left, the Gulf of Mexico on the right.

Just a few moments later and I was very close to the lighthouse. It was fun not to be in that long line of traffic waiting to load onto the ferry. (On the other hand, the ferry ride is always fun, too, and usually worth the wait.)

I circled and took several photos of the lighthouse.

Although I was over marshland, avoiding any congested areas, I still felt a little uncomfortable — and seeing a Coast Guard helicopter nearby didn’t soothe my nerves, either — so I started to head back the way I came.

Off to my left (toward Galveston Island) I could see the remains of the famous concrete ship, the Selma (in the foreground).

Below me was another ferry boat, plying the waters toward Galveston.

To my right is the entire length of the Texas City Dike, stretched out in front of me.

This picture illustrates that there isn’t much there to land on — except possibly the big green area at the tip — and too many people around to do it safely.

On the shipping lane to the left of the dike, an ocean-going tug and an inland barge approach each other.

A few minutes later, I’m safely over land again. Looking to my left, I can easily see the causeway and bridge which connect Galveston Island to the mainland. The road going over that bridge is Interstate 45.

Just slightly to the right of center in that picture is the runway for Scholes Field. Even being slightly more than 5 miles away, it felt close. My altitude was about 300-400 feet for my trip so I was well below the usual flight levels at which the planes using the field would be, so I wasn’t too worried.

The rest of the trip home was very pleasant, but not much to take pictures of!


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